Australia’s Victoria state records second-highest daily rise

A healthcare worker walks down stairs at the Kings Park townhouse complex locked down in response to an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), in Melbourne, Australia, June 16, 2021. — Reuters pic
A healthcare worker walks down stairs at the Kings Park townhouse complex locked down in response to an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), in Melbourne, Australia, June 16, 2021. — Reuters pic

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MELBOURNE, Sept 26 — Australia’s Victoria state has logged 779 new Covid-19 infections and two deaths, slightly easing from a record high the previous day, as the country’s prime minister presses state leaders to be ready to reopen once vaccination targets are met.

The daily increase was still the state’s second-highest, after an all-time peak of 847 new cases logged on Saturday, as officials battle to contain a Delta variant outbreak that has taken root since June.

Australia’s two most populous states, Victoria and New South Wales, have been struggling to contain the highly infectious strain while they ramp up vaccinations to 80 per cent of the population, a threshold that will allow officials to ease strict lockdown measures.

Three-quarters of Australians have had a first dose of vaccine, while just half have had both doses.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in an interview aired on Sunday that he expects states to open up borders and ease restrictions once the 80 per cent vaccination threshold has been met.

“We each have a personal responsibility for looking after our own health. And so it’s important that we do move forward,” he told Channel 7’s Sunrise program.

“There comes a time when you just got to move on and get on with it,” he said, speaking from Washington, where Australian officials have been meeting with their counterparts from the US, Japan and India.

Morrison said his message to Australians was “that what I’d like them to have for Christmas is their lives back. And that’s within the gift of governments. And that’s a gift I’d like to see us give them.” — Reuters

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